Galinhada is a delicious traditional Brazilian dish of chicken and rice. Hearty and comforting, this dish is easy to make, cooked in one pot and great to feed a crowd!
I have yet to meet someone that can resist a plate of galinhada right out of the stove. It is truly a soul warming dish!
Similar to Arroz con Pollo or a seafood-less paella, this Brazilian version is even better! I know, I know. You will say that I am biased, and I might be! But I guess you won’t be able to disagree with me until you make it and try for yourself. 😉
Whatever you do, do not skip marinading the chicken! That’s what makes all the difference, plus we also use the remaining marinade to add more flavor to the rice and to give the dish its signature yellowish color.
What is Galinhada?
Galinhada is a Brazilian dish that traditionally consists of hen cooked with rice and vegetables, similar to Arroz con Pollo and Spanish Paella.
Its origins are disputed by the state of Goiás and the state of Minas Gerais. However, my research shows that the dish actually started with Portuguese expeditioners (bandeirantes), who explored Brazil searching for gold, especially in Minas Gerais, São Paulo and Goiás.
They would either carry the hens with them, or would buy them from small farms along the way. Since Galinhada is filling and easy to make, it became popular and is now strongly associated with Brazilian cuisine!
Nowadays, there are as many recipes as there are home cooks! Every family has a special galinhada recipe. Modern cooks (myself included) will use chicken instead of the traditional free-range hens, but purists will say that it’s a heresy!
And while a pot of galinhada is a great call year round, it is often served on Holy Saturday, to celebrate the end of Lent. Legend has it that a good galinhada was a galinhada made with stolen hens, so – after fasting the 40 days for Lent – people would invade hen houses to steal their special ingredient!
But, don’t worry, it was customary to then invite the previous hen owner to eat the galinhada! 😂 😂 😂
Another fun fact is that the dish is also popular as a cure for hangover. There is even a saying that says: “O que a pinga estraga, a galinha cura“, which translates to “What the pinga (a Brazilian spirit) ruins, the hen cures.”
To make Galinhada, you will need:
- Chicken – This dish is traditionally made with a whole chicken, cut into pieces, but my version only calls for boneless chicken thighs as I find that it makes it easier to eat with just a fork.
- Sausage – I use calabresa sausage, which is a Brazilian sausage. If you can’t find it near you, you can substitute for kielbasa or even chorizo.
- A marinade – made of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, parsley, onion, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Tomatoes – The recipe calls for fresh tomatoes, but you can use canned diced tomatoes if that’s what you have on hand!
- Rice – Any long-grain white rice will work. In Brazil, this dish is traditionally made with agulinha rice, but here in the U.S. I like using jasmine rice to make this dish.
- White Wine – For deglazing the pan.
- Chicken Broth – Homemade or store-bought.
- Bay Leaves
- Salt and Pepper
How to Make Galinhada
While traditional Galinhada was made on rustic wood stoves, with free-range hens, my version is easy, made with chicken thighs that you can find at any grocery store and cooked on your good old stove!
Yes, it is easy to make but it does require some planning, as you will have to marinade the chicken. Don’t even think about skipping this step or your Galinhada won’t be the same!
But the good news is that you can marinate the chicken the night before (or even the morning of, if you are making it for dinner).
And as for which pot to use, I used a 3.6 quart Cast Iron Casserole Dish, but you can use a 4qt (or larger) Dutch Oven instead.
Here’s how I make Galinhada. As always, you will find the printable (and more complete) version of the recipe at the end of this post!
Step 1: Marinate the chicken.
- Prepare a paste with the olive oil, onion, garlic, turmeric, vinegar, parsley, salt and pepper in the food processor.
- In a bowl, combine the diced chicken thighs with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Step 2: Cook the chicken, sausage and veggies.
- Brown the sausage.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade for later.
- Brown the chicken on all sides.
- Sauté the onion and carrot.
- Deglaze the pan with white wine. You can omit this step if desired!
- Add the chicken broth, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.
Step 3: Cook the rice.
- First, rinse your rice. While we want our galinhada to be creamy, we don’t want it to be sticky, so it’s recommended to rinse to get rid of the extra starch.
- Add the rice, tomatoes, reserved marinade, bay leaves and a pinch of salt and pepper to the pot with the chicken.
- Cover and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.
- Let it sit for 10 minutes, covered, before stirring the chopped parsley and serving!
- There will still be some liquid in the pot once the rice finishes cooking. That is normal! This Galinhada is nice and creamy, similar to a Jambalaya. If you prefer a fluffier Galinhada, reduce the broth to 2 cups!
- I like to add the tomatoes when I add the rice, so they cook down. If you like firmer tomatoes, add them at the end, after the rice has finished cooking.
Galinhada is perfect and satisfying as is, but you can also serve a simple green salad or a vegetable side to round out the meal!
Some people like to serve it with lime wedges for squeezing, saying it helps to balance some of the richness of this dish. However, since my marinade recipe already contains apple cider vinegar, I find that it is not necessary.
As I mentioned earlier, there are many versions of Galinhada. This is a dish that allows creativity, so feel free to play with it and create your version!
Here are some suggestions:
- Make it with pequi like they do in Centerwestern Brazil. Pequi is a very peculiar Brazilian fruit. And while you can’t find the fresh fruit here in the States, you can find conserved pequi and pequi oil on Amazon!
- Add corn, peas, olives, bell peppers and/or chili peppers.
- Omit the sausage and/or add bacon!
- Use cilantro instead of parsley.
- Make it with brown rice instead of white rice. But be aware that you will need to add more liquid and cooking times with change.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can make it with chicken breasts, but they won’t get as juicy and succulent as chicken thighs.
I personally find that Galinhada is best when fresh out of the stove. That being said, yes, you can make it ahead and refrigerate for up to 4-5 days.
Reheat in a pot, on the stove, over medium-low heat, until warmed through. You might want to add a few splashes of chicken broth to bring it back to a creamy consistency!
Storage and Freezing
- Fridge – Store leftovers (after they’ve cooled completely) in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.
- Freezer – Galinhada can be frozen in freezer safe containers or bags, for up to 3 months.
More Rice Dishes
- Arroz de Forno (Creamy Rice Casserole)
- One Pan Mexican Beef and Rice Casserole
- Chicken and Chorizo Paella
- Brazilian Dirty Rice
- Dirty Rice with Smoked Sausage and Bacon
For the marinade:
- 1 onion, peeled
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- ½ cup fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the Galinhada:
- 1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 (aprox. 4 ounces) calabresa sausages, sliced (substitute for kielbasa or chorizo)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot, finely diced
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 ½ cups chicken broth
- 1 cup white long-grain rice, rinsed
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
Making the marinade:
- In a food processor, combine all the marinade ingredients and process until smooth.
Making the Galinhada:
- In a bowl, combine the chicken and marinade, tossing so every piece is thoroughly coated. Cover with plastic or foil and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or overnight).
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch Oven, over medium heat. Brown the sausage on both sides, about 5 minutes. Then, remove with a slotted spoon into a plate and reserve.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the excess marinade for later. Add the chicken to the pot, sautéing until lightly browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pot and reserve.
- Add more oil if needed, then sauté the onion and carrot until they begin to caramelize slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping all the browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Return the chicken and sausage to the pot, and pour in the chicken broth. Cover and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the rice, tomatoes, bay leaves, reserved marinade and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cover and continue cooking for another 15 minutes, or until the rice is cooked. There will still be some liquid in the pot, that is normal.
- Turn the heat off and let the Galinhada rest, covered, for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the fresh parsley and serve!